Mark of the Rani is markedly different to the previous episodes and it is nice to see an episode set in an historical setting; in this case a mining village in Northumberland in the latter part of the eighteenth century, and we certainly get some interesting accents in this episode especially with the local character some of whom use a rather unusual dialect to say the least which at least adds some colour to the proceedings.
Another notable thing about this episode is the fact that Peri is covered up in a Victorian style dress for a trip to Kew Gardens which the Doctor had promised to take her but as usual something happened and their plans changed. I don’t think that Peri was very surprised as this turn of events, she had been travelling with the Doctor for some time by now and this was very much par for the course.
In this case the TARDIDS was actually working for once and they were drawn to a time signature which shouldn’t have been there so they landed near where the time signature was found which meant that there was somebody in the vicinity who really shouldn’t have been there.
The Doctor soon realises that he has arrived at a moment in time where a conglomeration of genii from the later Victorian era have all been bought together and in the same place, which rings alarm bells for the Doctor as that might have been something that actually happened but it could also involve something rather sinister and as there was a strange time signature it would seem likely that there might be something going on that is not good somewhere in the vicinity, and he wasn’t far wrong either.
When the story began we saw some of the minors returning after a day’s hard graft and going to the wash house which was ran by an a very old woman but once they had entered there was some sort of gas released and the minors collapsed and then a wall at the back of the washhouse opened up and the men were taken into the back.
The same men were later seen attacking a carriage which carried some machinery that was on its way to George Stephenson. They were also discovered to have a red mark on their necks. When the Doctor finds out about this meeting of minds he tries to get himself invited to the meeting and inveigles himself into see Lord Ravensworth who quickly seems to trust the Doctor despite his rather strange manner and dress sense.
Two women appear before Lord Ravensworth and tell him that their husbands had gone missing after their shift and that they are worried about them. This piqued the Doctor’s interest and pretends to be a minor returning from a shift and makes his way to the washhouse where the same thing happens again and the Doctor is overcome.
The Doctor later wakes up in the Rani’s laboratory and recognises her immediately. Of course timelords have a second sense when it comes to recognising people of their own kind even if they had regenerated since the last time they saw them and it soon becomes apparent what the Rani is up to.
Actually the Rani’s plans are’nt exactly evil and she does not appear to be changing history as she was using the luddite uprising as a cover for her making these people more aggressive so she is it not megalamaniacal like some of the Doctor’s villains and there is an actual purpose to what she is doing and she is not just doing it for fun or out or some kind of revenge.
In many ways the Rani’s plan in and of itself would have been sufficient to make an interesting story they had to go and force the Master into the plot for no apparent reason at all and to be honest although Anthony Ainley is a lot of fun as the Master here he is entirely superflouous to the plot and could have removed without greatly affecting the story and it might have been an even stronger story without him.
I feel that Kate O’Mara was not given full rein to let loose on the part as she would have been if she was the sole villain in the story which she was surelt meant to have been, she is far too interesting a character to be sidelined to the bloody Master who was becoming far too ubiquitous for my liking at this time.
I was very impressed with the way that Pip and Jane Baker handled Peri in this story and actually had her talking about botany which was what she was supposed to be a student off but which seemed to have dispensed with as far as we can make out before this point so it was nice to see someone actually give her that little bit of characterisation which had been criminally underused before now.